Brotherhood of the Wolf review

:. Director: Christophe Gans
:. Starring: Samuel Le Bihan, Monica Belluci
:. Running Time: 2:22
:. Year: 2001
:. Country: France


The legend of the beast of Gévaudan serves as a pretext for a film of odds and ends that shamelessly mixes genres in Brotherhood of the Wolf, a film with a neat aestheticism close to the universe of the comic strip.

Christophe Gans, of Crying Freeman fame (a curious cocktail of Hong Kong and Manga cinema), goes one step further to offer a voluntarily anachronistic film, a kind of adolescent fantasy from a teenager who has the means of putting his dreams onscreen.

Legend has it that in 18th century France, a mysterious animal terrorized the population of the area of GĂ©vaudan. On this story Gans builds a mystery that an envoy of the king, Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Bihan), and his servant Mani (Mark Dacascos) must solve. Brotherhood of the Wolf is an amalgam of historical account, detective mystery, thriller, horror and action. Add the presence of an Indian martial arts expert and combats halfway between The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and you have an idea of this cinematic mixture.

The goal of this film is only to provide a visual spectacle in which Gans can chuck in all of his influences. On the condition of wittingly disregarding common sense, it is then possible to enjoy Brotherhood of the Wolf. The analogical, esthetic and cold photography manages to create a morbid and stifling universe. Besides, one can see the trace of Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, whether in the theme (horror), the anachronisms (Coppola's cowboy vs. Gans's Indian) or the visual cold based on special effects (for example, the use of molten). This visual can also be heavy and mannered and does not always manage to make up for the length. The action scenes are spectacular and show an extreme violence in the line of Asian film. Contrary to their American counterparts, French blockbusters are at least not toned down.

The cast is not very homogeneous. Samuel Bihan is insipid and proves not very credible as a warrior whereas Mark Dacascos—one who is accustomed to straight-to-video action flicks (except for Crying Freeman)—is at least at ease in the action scenes. Monica Bellucci (Malena, Doberman) and Vincent Cassel (The Crimson Rivers, Doberman) come to spice the whole thing up while other figures of French cinema are also present in secondary roles.

A shameful pleasure for the sleeping adolescent in you.

  Fred Thom

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